I've been a Lightroom user for years. It's a tried and true professional system for processing RAW files, and it's never really let me down. However, I've been really diving into Capture One recently, and I have to say that it's made my head turn.
While I'm not necessarily advocating for current Lightroom users to switch their platform, I do think that Capture One is worth a look—even just for curiosity.
This one truly is a game-changer! In the past, if there has been one thing that has caused me to move my editing from RAW editing software to Photoshop, it's almost always been the need to edit with layers and masking. Capture One has these features integrated into its platform. Make no mistake, this tool is not a feeble, sub-par attempt. It's the real deal, and it's powerful!
In the example below, you'll see a step-by-step example of how to use layers to soften specific shadows of a darker image.
- Begin by creating a new filled layer. In the default workspace, layers can be found in the color module and the exposure module, as shown here.
- Create a new filled layer by clicking and holding down on the + icon, which will reveal the option.
- The marked areas are the shadows I intend to soften.
- I used the Levels tool to bring up the midtones of the image just a bit. As you can see in the image below, Levels adjustment affects the whole image. This is because the entire layer is "filled."
- Because I only want to adjust specific areas, I will invert the fill mask and paint it back in where I want the shadow softening to be applied specifically.
- Right-click on the layer and select "Invert Mask," returning the layer to its previous appearance.
- Now, select the brush tool, which can be found in the top menu or by pressing the ‘B’ key.
- Right-click, bringing up the brush settings, give the brush a soft edge (no higher than 20%) and a low flow rate, (20% or below).
- Now you can slowly and evenly brush in the effect where desired. You can see the mask highlighted in red by pressing the ‘M’ key.
Almost everything in Capture One can be used with layers, including presets. (Look for the little brush icon.) You can also adjust the opacity of a layer or go back and change it at any time.
Sure. All RAW editing software is going to have some kind of color adjustment. What I find particularly appealing about the color editor in C1 is how precise it can be.
We'll use an image of my pal, Tommy, as an example. Let's say I like the edit, but maybe I want to change the hue of the green foliage behind him. Capture One's color editor tool makes that fast and easy.
- First, I make a new layer just in case I want to change it again or brush or erase parts of my adjustment.
- In the Color Module, scroll down and select Color Editor, and then, select the middle option, Advanced.
- Grab the eye-dropper tool in the corner and select the desired color to alter.
- Click the "View Selected Color Range" checkbox below. This will show the color you've selected, and anything else will be black and white.
- You can further refine the range of the color selection by dragging the color wheel range in almost any direction.
- Once you have the desired color range selected, use the Smoothness, Hue, Saturation, and Lightness sliders to adjust the color to your liking. If you make the adjustment in a layer, you can use the eraser tool to remove any unwanted areas affected.
C1's curves tool is quite exceptional. It works well and smoothly, and you can use it in RGB or edit the R, G, & B separately. Where it really shines, though, is the fact that it also has a Luma Curve. This is a big deal because it allows you to edit only the luminosity of an image without affecting the color at all. This tool also works with layers so you can add, change, and brush the tool wherever you wish.
Capture One's Luma Range, in combination with its layers function, is a power-house combo! Luma Range allows you to make exact selections within your image based on the light and shadow values.
Here, we'll use a Luma Range layer to adjust the sky in the background. Here's how to go about it.
- Create a new filled layer and click the Luma Range button in the Layers panel.
- A new box with sliders will pop up. Check the box that says "Display Mask."
- Because I am isolating highlights, I'll drag the top shadow slider to the right, which will begin to refine the red mask that you see.
- Once the sky is roughly selected, I adjust the Radius and Sensitivity for a smoother edge and transition around the sky portion of the image. There are still a few spots of the layer mask on her coat and on the building in the background, but I can brush those out. (If the mask goes away when you press Apply, just press the ‘M' key to display it again.)
- Click Apply.
- Now, with the layer still selected, hit ‘E' to bring up the eraser tool and brush away any unwanted masked areas.
- Once you are happy with the selection, press the ‘M' key again to make the read mask overlay go away. From here, make any adjustments wanted, which will only affect the selected areas.
- I used the High Dynamic Range and a Luma Curve to bring detail back into the sky.
Exporting your files has never been so glorious! For those of us who may often need multiple versions of the same images, I'm sure you'll agree that this is among the top features found in C1. You can do things like export small preview JPEGs, web files, print files, and TIFF or RAW files to specific folders and locations ALL AT THE SAME TIME! 🤯
You do this by making individual export "Recipes."
- To make a recipe, start by going to the Output Module.
- Just below it, you'll see a section labeled "Process Recipes."
- Click the + sign in the lower right corner of that section.
- Name it whatever you wish. For this one, we'll make a recipe for JPEG Previews.
- In the second section from the top, under Basic, set your desired parameters.
- Once the Basic settings are in place, click the File tab.
- Choose "output location." For the rest of the tabs, Adjustments, Metadata, and Watermark, make any changes you wish.
- Choose the location that your images should go, check any additional recipe boxes and click "Process" at the very bottom. Capture One will export them all at the same time.
Capture One truly is powerful and amazing software, and these tools are just the tip of the iceberg! Tell us about the ways you're using Capture One and other things you'd like to know about it on the Mastin Labs Facebook group!